How CIMS and the Original Edition Came to Be

[Originally posted in David Icke Forum]

You actually may find the story of how an ‘early version’ of this course [ACIM] was discovered in 1999 quite interesting as it blew the Course Community wide open! For years students believed they were studying what the scribe, Helen Schucman and her co-scribe William Thetford, had written but not so.

The story of how the scribing came about is in itself quite amazing. Story of the scribing Helen was a militant atheist. She had investigated religion and finally settled on science, believing there was no God. “Helen was a clinical and research psychologist, who held the tenured position of Associate Professor of Medical Psychology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City.” About the Scribes And then she began to have psychic occurrences culminating in hearing, “This is A Course in Miracles. Please take notes.”

For 7 years she and her boss, William Thetford, took down what she was hearing from an internal VOICE which described itself as JESUS. This was embarrassing and disconcerting to Helen but on some level she knew she would take this material down. She said she wouldn’t do what it said and if it made any errors she was done!

Once it was finished Helen and Bill didn’t know quite what to do with it. They gave a copy to Hugh Lynn Cayce, son of Edgar Cayce, thinking perhaps they would publish it.

Shortly after this Helen and Bill met Ken Wapnick who thought that the manuscript should be edited further which they did. In 1975 the Course was published and copyrighted, with the acknowledgment that it had been edited by only minor changes in titles, subtitles and punctuation; in other words nothing major.

In 1992 the copyright holder started to enforce the copyright stringently and a few years later entered into a multimillion dollar law suit against a spiritual community which was ‘quoting’ the Course out of context. The spiritual community had only the lawyers who lived in the community and who offered their services Pro Bono. It was truly a David & Goliath scenario.

The spiritual community LIVED the theories of ACIM and came from unconditional love for ALL involved -> Judge, Plaintiffs, Defendants. ALL. I don’t think the Judge or anyone in the courtroom knew what hit them. It was LOVE. The copyright was overturned in 2003!!! Copyright Timeline

The most amazing part of this whole story was that during the ‘discovery’ phase of the trial, the early version manuscript given to Hugh Lynn Cayce was located, digitized and put up on the INTERNET!!

Realizing the beauty of this material and wanting to get it out into the world, a few of us formed a non-profit organization, Course in Miracles Society [CIMS] and published this manuscript under the name, “Jesus’ Course in Miracles” in 2000. Of course we were immediately presented with a restraining order and were sued as well. How Jesus Got His Copyright Back <- This link tells the story of what happened next.

We are the Course in Miracles referred to in the WIKIPEDIA article about ACIM. WIKI – ACIM Article And we are truly Non-Profit. No one at CIMS receives salaries or bonuses for what we contribute.

If the Course has crossed your Path, it’s not an accident. It’s your REALITY telling you it’s time. Check our blog out. CIMS BLOG Check out our website: CIMS Website.

There is something incredibly REAL behind the facade if you just take the time to peek in. 😉 Well….why am I not surprised the Huffington Post had this article.

Take care and thanks for taking the time to read this.
~ Reja

What Exactly IS the ‘Original Edition’?

We were asked recently to clearly explain what exactly is the ‘Original Edition’ and how does it compare to the early xeroxed copies of the manuscript made before formal publication.
 LISTEN to 23 min MP3        WATCH Video
 In 1969 the scribing of the Text and Workbook was finished by Helen Schucman and co-scribe Bill Thetford. This resulted in what is referred to as the ‘Urtext’. The pages stand about 2 feet high when placed in a stack. At this time a lengthy process of retyping the Course began. Bill Thetford was adamant that no changes be made other than correcting the typing errors and removing specifically personal material. Jesus designated Bill to be the one in charge of all changes.

In the Spring of 1972 the dictation of the third volume, Manual for Teachers, began. In September 1972 the retyping of the text was completed. The transcribing of the third and final volume, the Manual for Teachers, was completed.

When Helen and Bill finished the manuscript in 1972, they made about 12 copies and put them in their closet. [Bill Thetford mentions this in one of the Course videos]. The movie implies, however, that these copies were the copies created when all of the edits were finished in 1975, but they are not, as you will see in this discussion.

The copies in their closet were actually of the ‘original edition’ which has now been published by Course in Miracles Society [CIMS]. Helen Schucman and Bill allegedly gave unrestricted copies of their finished work to a few people. The ones we know of are: Cal Thatcher, a close friend of Helen’s; Fr. Benedict Groeshel, CFR, student of Helen’s; Hugh Lynn Cayce, son of psychic Edgar Cayce and Kenneth Wapnick, a clinical psychologist, who had recently converted to Catholicism and is informed of Bill and Helen through Father Groeshel. [It should be noted that it had been sent to Hugh Lynn Cayce in the hopes that his association might publish it, according to letters between Hugh Lynn Cayce and the scribes.]

As noted, Ken Wapnick was included in the group of six people receiving one of the 12 copies of the 1972 manuscript. We know from his statements on various Course videos that he was thoroughly intrigued by this manuscript when he had heard about it from his friend Father Groeshel. When Ken returned from Israel in the early part of 1973 he came to see Helen and asked to see the manuscript. In approximately six months, after becoming a close friend of Helen’s, at the end of 1973, Ken encouraged her to work with him to edit the document in order to make it more ‘printer ready’. Ken describes, in his own words what transpired at this time:

“I commented to Helen and Bill that I thought the manuscript needed some additional editing. Some of the personal and professional material still remained, and seemed inappropriate for a published edition.” Absence From Felicity” CH 12 “The Editing”.

This was the editing project which Ken and Helen finished in a little over a year, i.e. in the spring of 1975. Full copyright timeline is here: Copyright TimeLine

Therefore, the xerox copies that Judith Skutch Whitson made and distributed were not the ‘original edition’. Judith Skutch met Helen, Bill and Ken in 1975, after the editing project had been completed. The manuscript was typed one final time by an elderly Maryknoll Sister and was ready for its journey into the public arena as a trimmed down and publication ready A COURSE IN MIRACLES.

However, the 1972 manuscript was only ever seen by those few people mentioned earlier. As many of you may know, eventually in 1996 there was a law suit brought against Endeavor Academy by the copyright holders of ACIM. The Endeavor Academy lawyers needed to prove pre-copyright distribution. No one knew that the ‘original edition’ existed until it was located at the Association for Research and Enlightenment [A.R.E.] Library during the ‘discovery phase’ of the litigation, in 1999. As we mentioned previously, by some miracle, Helen and Bill had sent Hugh Lynn Cayce a copy of the manuscript when it was finished in 1972, before meeting Ken Wapnick. Some say the manuscript was stolen from the A.R.E. Library and some say they were given permission to make a copy. [This copy of the early 1972 manuscript has been named the Hugh Lynn Cayce or HLC manuscript.]

In any case, after the HLC manuscript was discovered it essentially blew everyone’s mind! That was in 1999. The Course community was previously told for 24 years that only minor changes in punctuation and title headings had been made during the editing project in 1975. They had no idea, until this discovery, that 25% of the first 5 chapters were removed when Helen and Ken edited the manuscript in 1973; most of all the capitalized words were changed to lower case, and replaced  with italicized in only a few cases; 53 principles went to 50; sections were rearranged and major portions were deleted. 127 references to “Soul” were changed to 12. The word “Soul” was either deleted or changed to another word such as: creations, you, spirit. Here is a side by side comparison of the changes:

It should also be noted that the Urtext [rough, original typing from shorthand notes] was obtained legally from the Library of Congress by the parties being sued: Endeavor Academy and CIMS. A copy was illegally leaked from Endeavor Academy.


“Beginning in June, 1996, and ending in April, 2003, a copyright lawsuit initiated by Penguin Books and FIP* was brought against the New Christian Church of Full Endeavor for their unlimited independent publication of substantial portions of A Course in Miracles. It was found that the contents of the FIP first edition, published from 1976 through 1992, are in the public domain. However, copyright in all of the changes introduced in the Second Edition remains intact, as does the copyright for the Text Preface and the two supplementary pamphlets, Psychotherapy and Song of Prayer, as well as Schucman’s poetry, The Gifts of God.” [end of excerpt]

This means that the urtext, HLC, special messages, Helen’s unpublished works and all prior renditions of the work were deemed to be included in its copyright which was now overturned in this judgment. When the Course was found to have been placed in the public domain, that ruling also applied to the predecessor renditions.

After Judge Sweet overturned the copyright in 2003 Robert Perry of the Circle of Atonement wrote a very informative article. Robert Perry’s full article is here:  This is an EXCERPT from Robert Perry’s article:

“The judge categorically sided with the original version of the story. According to him, this is what happened: Helen “Schucman was embarrassed by her scribing and considered it her ‘guilty secret.’” Fearing for their professional reputations at Columbia University, she and Bill Thetford originally “chose to keep [the Course] a secret.” That is why they didn’t put a copyright notice on it, even though they were accustomed to copyrighting their professional articles.” [end of excerpt]

It’s interesting that in Robert Perry’s article there is a bit of history left out between the paragraph that starts with, “The judge categorically sided with the original version of the story…” and the next paragraph “Shortly after receiving the manuscript, Judy then took the Course to California, in two key trips that took place in June and July of 1975.”

What is left out is that In between the manuscript being given to several people by Helen and Bill in 1972 and when it was distributed in 1975, there was the completion of the editing project undertaken by Helen and Ken Wapnick. No wonder people are confused. Bill Thetford had chosen not to take part in this editing project, eventually moving to California in 1980.

We are just happy that we have the freedom NOW to read any version that we choose. When “Absence from Felicity” was published by Kenneth Wapnick we longed to read the special messages and the original manuscript and the Urtext [very first typing before HLC] and now we can!

We hope that this answers a lot of your questions and if you have any further questions, please post them here. ♥

~ Course in Miracles Society

*FIP – Foundation for Inner Peace

FINAL Court Ruling: BooksUSAvNew ChristianChurch288FSupp2d544-Dist.pdf

COMPARISON of Various Versions of the Course:

MORE Information here:

  LISTEN to 23 min MP3        WATCH Video

ACIM ~ Comparison of Versions

 Sparkle Edition

The following are various ‘editions’ of A COURSE IN MIRACLES from which students may choose.

  1. A Course in Miracles: “Sparkle Edition” [Thetford Foundation]
  2. The “A Course in Miracles – Original Edition” published by the Course in Miracles Society [CIMS]
  3. A Course in Miracles – The Foundation for Inner Peace [FIP] edition
  4. URText [original transcription of shorthand notes & additions, before editing for publication] [MiraclePathways]

The following is a brief description of the differences regarding CONTENT, FORWARD/PREFACE, NUMBERING, and STYLE/PUNCTUATION between the first three editions listed above. See the CONCLUSION below for information regarding the Urtext. [Also, the following article by Community Miracles Center will give you the background for the specific differences between the Course in Miracles Society [CIMS] *original edition* and the edition published by the Foundation for A Course in Miracles [ACIM].]


The “Original Edition” is the manuscript of the dictation of A Course in Miracles which had been completed in September 1972 and had resulted in three volumes—the Text, the Workbook for Students, and the Manual for Teachers. The scribes Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford had divided the Text into chapters and sections and had given titles to each, and they removed a great deal of material from the early chapters, material they believed was meant for them personally, not for the Course. The edition that resulted from those efforts is the “Original Edition” as published by the Course in Miracles Society [CIMS].

The “Original Edition” manuscript was only discovered in 1999 as a result of the ‘discovery phase’ of a lawsuit brought by the copyright holders at that time upon a spiritual community for copyright infringement. It is sometimes referred to as the HLC edition or the “Jesus’ Course in Miracles’ edition. The copyright on this 1972 edition was overturned in 2003 due to pre-copyright distribution which placed the manuscript in the public domain. There is currently no copyright on the “Original Edition”, the “Sparkle” Edition or the URText Edition. FIP retains a copyright on the 1975 edition as described below.

The Sparkle Edition is essentially the original 1972 manuscript with the changes in preface, punctuation, and numbering as noted below. The content has not been changed. There may however be additions from the ur text [first typing of shorthand notes] appearing in brackets in the “Original Edition” that do not appear in the Sparkle Edition.

Regarding the changes made in the FIP Edition, this is an excerpt from CIMS “Forward”:

“In 1973 Ken Wapnick, who had joined their small circle and received a copy of the 1972 manuscript, expressed his belief that further editing was needed. Thetford withdrew from further detailed editing work, and Schucman and Wapnick resumed the editing process. Along with changes in paragraphing, punctuation, capitalization, and section titles, there was a great deal of line-by-line editing. In addition, about one-fifth of the material in the first five chapters was removed. Finally, a new section, the Clarification of Terms, was added. The resulting edition, published in 1975 by the Foundation for Inner Peace, became the Course with which the world would become familiar.”

Also: “In the FIP Edition, the 53 miracle principles are changed to 50. Descriptions of the miracle principles are re-arranged and in some cases obtained from other areas of the text. 127 references to “Soul” are changed to 12. The word “Soul” is either deleted or changed to another word such as:  creations, you, spirit.”  Excerpt from:

The following is a side-by-side comparison between the Foundation for Inner Peace [FIP] 2nd Edition and the HLC/Jesus’ Course in Miracles/Original Edition/Sparkle Editions:


The “Original Edition” contains a FOREWARD written by Course in Miracles Society that does not appear in the “Sparkle Edition”. The Forward briefly explains how A Course in Miracles came about and how this edition differs from subsequent editions.

The first printing of the “Sparkle Edition” contains THE USE OF TERMS as a ‘preface’. The PREFACE in the second printing of the “Sparkle Edition” includes an explanation for the formatting style and a “Publisher’s Note” regarding THE USE OF TERMS as well as THE USE OF TERMS itself.  The “Publisher’s Note explains that in the Use of Terms, scribed by Helen, it was explained that the term SOUL was excluded due to its controversial nature. The “Publisher’s Note” indicates that the term SOUL has been restored in the Sparkle Edition to its original position.

THE USE OF TERMS is not located in the “Original Edition” as it was not part of the original manuscript as completed by Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford in 1972. The USE OF TERMS was subsequently scribed in 1975 by Helen when the “Original Edition manuscript” was further edited by Helen and Ken Wapnick for a more general publication.

The FIP 1st Edition, printed in three separate hardback volumes in 1975, does not contain a PREFACE. It does contain however the CLARIFICATION OF TERMS which appears at the end of the third volume: “The Manual for Teachers”. A subsequent FIP Edition, which would have been the 13th printing of the original volumes, combines all three volumes into a single book and has the addition of a second copyright date, 1985. This edition contains, for the first time, a PREFACE which has two sections: “How it Came” and “What it Says”.


In the CIMS “Original Edition” the paragraphs are numbered to make referencing easier. Since page numbers change as typographical corrections are made and additions are entered in brackets from the ur text [i.e. the first typing from the shorthand notes], one would need the Chapter and Paragraph numbers to reference a quote with ease.

The Sparkle edition has no numbering at all.

The 1st FIP edition [3 volume hardback] has no numbering at all. Where the 3 volumes are first combined into a single volume, there is no numbering. In a subsequent 2nd edition of the combined volume, the paragraphs and the sentences within the paragraphs are all numbered.


Style and punctuation are also slightly different in all three editions. When the initial manuscript was typed from the shorthand notes and verbal information added by Helen Schucman [the scribe], it was done on a TYPEWRITER. Typewriters at that time did not  italicize and therefore Bill Thetford who was co-scribe and the person who typed it, added those words in all CAPS for emphasis.

The “Original Edition” italicizes all CAPITALIZATION.

The “Sparkle Edition” has kept those words CAPITALIZED.

In all editions from the Foundation for Inner Peace [FIP] the CAPITALIZATION, of the original manuscript as edited, were changed to lower case in almost all instances, with a few of the words changed to italics.

As far as punctuation goes, the “Original Edition” follows the practices and conventions of the Chicago Manual of Style, and both the Sparkle and the FIP follow Helen’s idiosyncratic use of punctuation.


Hopefully, this document will aide students in answering the many questions they may have regarding the various editions of A Course in Miracles. Although a lot of Course students feel as though they want to read the Course as it was compiled by Helen and Bill, there are many who also want to read the UR TEXT [the manuscript typed from the shorthand notes with verbal additions by Helen]. This material was obtained legally from the Library of Congress by the parties in the copyright litigation who had legal access to the material being litigated. It was then obtained by other parties who subsequently shared it on the internet.Presently the UR TEXT is available on line here:

On the CIMS website there is the history of the copyright litigation in a Timeline; There is information on the Trademark ACIM; and there is information on how the copyright was actually overturned.

On FIPs website there is an explanation of the ‘Editing process’ although it presents a different view on how the material was edited and the legality of the obtained materials.

If any questions remain, please feel free to contact CIMS. [email address is below]

Humanity is incredibly blessed to have the A COURSE IN MIRACLES no matter which edition we use. Whatever our preference, HIS GUIDANCE is there for us if we open our hearts and let it in! It’s truly our way Home.

An On-Line searchable edition of the “Original Edition” is here:

An On-line edition of the “Sparkle Edition” is here:

An On-line searchable edition of the FIP Edition can be purchased here:

An On-line PDF of URtext:

~ Reja Janaki Joy Green, CIMS Member

View on web:    ACIM Comparisons

%d bloggers like this: